Around 200 staff at BHS' head office received more than £2m in total as the retailer went into liquidation, according to new findings by the BBC's Panorama.
The payments were made by Sir Philip Green's Arcadia business, with a spokesperson saying that it was done so to help retain staff as they looked for a buyer. According to the Panorama investigation, however, staff only received the payments after no buyer had been found.
On June 2, the same day it was announced that no buyer had been found for the retailer, 200 staff at BHS were told they'd receive an ex-gratia payment, which were not included in final salary payslips but transferred directly into their bank accounts. Some employees allegedly called these their "Philip bonus."
A spokesperson from Arcadia has released a statement saying that the BBC's claims are "fundamentally untrue," and added that former ceo Darren Topp had worked alongside administrators Duff & Phelps to organise the payments to the head office team members.
In a letter to the BBC from Mr Topp, he states: "When it became clear we were entering administration keeping Head Office employees was critical to our ability to sell the business whole and indeed run the business short term. This is evidenced by the the discussions we had with potential purchasers all of whom wanted to keep the Head office structure intact.
"In order to stem the tide of resignations I in conjunction with the Administrator sought funds from Arcadia to offer payments to the Head Office team. These monies would then be paid to individuals on either the sale of the business , the closure of the business or when we no longer required them and would be paid in the week following their last day of work or company sale.
"This money allowed us to retain key people in order to continue to trade and should a successful buyer have been found the business would have had the necessary resources to be operate normally very quickly."